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No state government can alter minimum wage law, FG declares

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• Why negotiation at state level is delayed, by NLC

No state government has the powers to alter the 2019 national minimum wage of N30, 000 as signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, according to the Federal Government. The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, made the declaration in Abuja yesterday at a one-day stakeholders’ meeting on the implementation of the minimum wage between the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and its state councils.

He stated that having been signed into law, no employer in the country has any other choice than to pay the specified N30, 000. “The 2019 minimum wage law has become a constitutional matter that no one can tamper with,” he said.Ngige explained that the meeting was aimed at strengthening the collective bargaining mechanism, and also for setting the framework for dialogue and dispute resolution in the course of negotiation for the implementation of the minimum wage and the attendant consequential adjustments at the state level. He implore the NLC state councils to work with the social partners, including the organised private sector, to reach agreement and ensure an effective implementation of the new model across states through collective bargaining.

The minister urged various state governments to cooperate with the organised labour during negotiations with a view to achieving success in the overall interest of industrial peace and harmony in the workplace. The President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said the meeting became imperative because labour did not want to leave any state council behind in the implementation of the new national wage.He highlighted that while a number of states were paying even beyond the N30,000 mark, others were still negotiating the terms of implementation and a few were yet to begin the process.He said that the meeting would take a unified position on the scenario in each state and design appropriate tools to tackle specific challenges as may be dictated by prevailing circumstances in the state.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of NLC, Bayelsa State Council, Bipre Ndiomu, and his Kogi State counterpart, Onuh Edoka, have said that the non-release of details of the negotiated consequential increment aspect of the minimum wage by the National Wages Income and Salaries Commission (NWISC) was responsible for the delay of negotiation at the state level.

In an exclusive interview with The Guardian on the state of negotiation of the consequential adjustment at the state level, Ndiomu and Edoka, specifically blamed the delay on the absence of a template from the commission, which is expected to provide the baseline for negotiations at the state level.

Ndiomu explained: “We are still waiting for the template. Our national body has told us not to be in a rush over it, so we are taking our time. You also know that we are in an election week. The template the joint council has is actually not the one from the Wages and Salaries Commission but the one done by labour. We are expecting that between this week and next week the commission will respond. So, we have not actually gone into serious discussion with government regarding the new minimum wage.”

On his part, Edoka said that labour in the state had made a presentation to the state government, while awaiting a circular from the NLC headquarters in Abuja.According to him, Governor Yahaya Bello has made a commitment to implement the new N30, 000 minimum wage.


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